Each year, Midwest Real Estate News elects a new class to its Commercial Real Estate Hall of Fame. Here’s a look at one of our new inductees, John Mays, partner with the Chicago office of law firm Gould & Ratner.
John Mays has played a key legal role in some of the biggest commercial developments in Chicago and across the country. That’s because Mays’ clients know that he will provide them with the best possible legal advice.
Mays, a partner in law firm Gould & Ratner’s Real Estate Practice, has worked in commercial real estate law for more than 47 years, 41 of those with Gould & Ratner. That’s a lot of experience. And it helps explain why Mays’ clients are so loyal to him: They know his understanding of real estate law is deep and thorough.
During his long career, Mays has negotiated complex entitlement agreements for clients like Crown Community Development, a company known for its land stewardship and neighborhood development, which has projects in several U.S. cities including Chicago, Tampa, Seattle, Denver, Indianapolis and Austin.
Despite spending so many years in real estate law, Mays still finds his field challenging and exciting. He especially enjoys working with his peers in this business, he said.
“For a commercial real estate project to be successful — and this is particularly true of development where the developer must evaluate the market, acquire and finance the land, construct the improvements and lease or sell the project — a diverse group of consultants and experts must work closely together in order to be successful,” Mays said. “There is nothing better than being part of a team that puts together a successful project.”
Thanks to his experience and legal knowledge, Mays is a frequent presenter on real estate, land-use and development issues, and has been an instructor at the Urban Land Institute’s National Real Estate School. He’s also instructed at the Great Cities Institute at the University of Illinois at Chicago and is a member of the adjunct faculty at the John Marshall Law School.
Like many veteran CRE professionals, Mays understands the importance of lifelong learning. As he says, every time he works on a deal or meets with a developer, he learns something new about this business.
“In my early years, I sought out mentors who took the time to share their experiences with me,” Mays said. “Since then, I have used every interaction with a client, a consultant or an adversary as an opportunity to expand my knowledge of commercial real estate.”
When not serving his clients, Mays gives back to his community and profession. He is past chairman of the Urban Land Institute’s 1,000-member Chicago District Council and today serves as a member of the institute’s Community Development Council. He is a member of ULI’s Board of Directors in Chicago and its Management Committee.
Mays is also actively involved in the Chicago real estate community as a member of Lambda Alpha International Land Economics Society, the Illinois Institute for Local Government Law and the American Bar Association Forum on the Construction Industry.
Mays has been recognized as an Illinois Super Lawyer since 2008 in the areas of real estate and land use/zoning.
When not working or studying in his field, Mays enjoys flying, as he is an avid pilot, and painting.